I want us to study the whole prophecy of Habakkuk to understand his message to the people of his time, AND to see how his message speaks to us in our day.
We will also look at how Paul took up Hab's message of living by faith in his letter to the Galatians.
In order to understand the prophetic books we must first consider the context – the time when they were written, & the condition of the people of Israel & Judah that the prophet is addressing.
H prophesied around 620-600 BC, in the years before the destruction of Jerusalem & the temple by the Babylonians. He prophesied at about the same time that Jeremiah began his ministry. Josiah had been a godly king who tried to bring the people back to God. It was too little, too late. The priests & people continued in their wicked ways.
H doesn’t seem to have been given a message to the people of Israel, instead we read of his private prayer arguments with God about the state of the land of Judah.
Zephaniah prophesied at the same time as Hab – it's the next book after Hab. He warned the people of Judah: 1:4 "I will stretch out my hand against Judah and against all who live in Jerusalem... to v.14
That is very similar to Stephen's defence in Acts 7, when he was accused by the elders of Israel.
Now we will stay in Habakkuk.
1:2-4 is his prayer that God will look at the wickedness of the people and do something about it – to correct & save them. 2 How long, O LORD, must I call for help, but you do not listen? Or cry out to you, "Violence!" but you do not save? 3 Why do you make me look at injustice? Why do you tolerate wrong? Destruction and violence are before me; there is strife, and conflict abounds. 4 Therefore the law is paralyzed, and justice never prevails. The wicked hem in the righteous, so that justice is perverted.
God’s reply is that he has had enough of the people who have constantly rejected him & his laws. He has protected & blessed them for 700 years. Now the nation has become utterly corrupt. Judgement has to come.
It will come through an invasion by the Babylonians (or Chaldeans). Jerusalem will be captured & the temple destroyed, & many of its treasures were taken to Babylon.
That reply horrifies Habakkuk. He argues with God. The Jews were Abraham’s descendants. They had the promises of God. The temple was the evidence of God’s blessing. How could God act against his own people? How could God break his own faithful promises & organise the destruction of the people he has promised to bless?
It is as if we prayed: “Britain has been blessed as a Christian country for hundreds of years. We have sent the Bible & the Gospel around the world. Now wickedness is increasing & churches are closing. Our Parliament is passing laws that violate the commandments of God. Please take action & bless us again, Lord.”
And God replied: “Britain has rejected the Gospel, so I am bringing in people of other religions to take over. They will take over your empty churches; they will influence the laws your Parliament enacts; they will get rich from the taxes you pay. You believers will suffer with the ungodly when I bring judgment on the whole land.
50 years ago, the Christian West Indians were shocked that England was not the Christian country they expected.
In Southall, 40 years ago, we hoped & prayed that the non-Christians coming into England would hear the Gospel, & take the Christian faith back to their own lands. But no – when we look around, we see they bring their pagan religions & gods, & build their own temples & mosques.
We live in a country that has rejected it's Christian heritage. We see the rise of godlessness all around us – TV, newspapers, magazines & the internet show the wickedness of our nation. We read the newspapers, & the angry reports about people breaking the law, but do they, do we actually honour & OBey God’s holy laws?
As a nation we are OBsessed with sport. The London Olympics were a great success for the nation. We wear the clothing; we wave the flags; but we do not play the sport. We sit back & watch on TV while others run about. Our national Christianity is like that. We claim to be Christians, but we do not live as Christians.
Hab prays about the national situation. He hears God’s answer & prays again. He knows he is living in a dangerous situation, where he now expects God’s judgement on the nation, not a revival & blessings. He still argues that God should be more concerned with the wickedness of the Babylonians than of Israel. 2:1 I will stand at my watch and station myself on the ramparts; I will look to see what he will say to me, and what answer I am to give to this complaint.
He watches & waits for God’s answer. As a prophet, he is God’s watchman for the nation of Israel. We as believers should pray for our nation. We are our nation's watchmen. If we want peace, we should pray for our national leaders.
What was Jesus’ command to his disciples about watching? Luke 21:36 Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man.
Habakkuk gets his answer:
2:2 Then the LORD replied: "Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets so that a herald may run with it. 3 For the revelation awaits an appoi
nted time; it speaks of the end and will n
ot prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will n
ot delay. 4 "See, he is puffed up; his desires are n
ot upright-- but the righteous will live by his faith--
God is working to a plan – he knows the end & how he will achieve his purposes. The trouble coming on the nation through the Babylonian invasion is discipline for a few years, & that discipline will pass. God has a greater plan in view. Hebrews quotes v. 4 in a way that shows Christ is the one who is coming! Heb. 10:37 For in just a very little while, He who is coming will come and will n
38 But my righteous one will live by faith. And if he shrinks back, I will n
ot be pleased with him.
Heb. 11 gives a great list of OT believers who lived by faith.
God in Hab. 2 declares a great promise that will be realised by the coming of Jesus Christ & his saving work; his cross & resurrection: 2:14 For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.
He goes on to ridicule the worship of idols, & declare his sovereign greatness: 2:20 But the LORD is in his holy temple; let all the earth be silent before him.
The OT has many prophecies of the coming Messiah.
H sees trouble – the Jews he lives with, & the coming destruction.
God tells him, “your hope must be in the coming Messiah – I will keep my promises to Abraham. You can trust me.”
I want to look closely at 2:4 — but the righteous will live by his faith—
The last part of this verse is of tremendous importance. Paul builds his teaching on “justification by faith” on that Scripture in Romans & Galatians.
How do we live by faith? What does it mean?
There are two aspects to living by faith:
(i) Justification by faith, wherby we come as sinners to Jesus, & seek forgiveness because of his saving work on the cross. That faith saves. (ii) A life of faith, trusting God day by day.
Through the 70 years of exile, God's care & protection of his people would continue. His saving purposes could not be frustrated. That message of living by faith was believed by Daniel & his friends in Babylonia, and by Esther & Mordecai & others in exile.
God further revealed to Daniel that Messiah would complete his saving work in in 70x7 years. After the exile those who returned rebuilt the temple & re-established worship. We read their stories in Ezra, Nehemiah, Zechariah & Haggai,
Nehemiah serving the king in the palace, prayed for the city, pleading in prayer for many months, and was given the privilege of rebuilding the city walls & establishing law & order again.
These men of God lived by faith in very troubled times.
We have better promises – we know the Lord Jesus Christ as our Messiah, and we have promises of a glorious new heaven & new earth, not of an earthly heritage.
We too, in our troubled times, need to learn the same lessons.
In the course of Hab's prophecy, there is the assurance that God is working to his plan for blessing mankind. Note 2:14 14 For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.
That is a wonderful Gospel promise for all nations in all the world, fulfilled in our Lord Jesus Christ by the Gospel.
What was the first promise to Abraham? Gen. 12:3 “... all peoples on earth will be blessed through you."
What is the “great commission?” Mat. 28:18 Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to OBey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."
We are living in the Gospel age and we have the message for all nations.
H has been complaining to God & arguing with him. God's last verse of Hab 2 ends his complaints & inspires a song of confident prayer. 20 But the LORD is in his holy temple; let all the earth be silent before him. Our opening hymn took up that great statement.
Habakkuk shows us how to pray & how to live in that situation. God is still God. We must trust him. We must live in our troubled land by faith in our Saviour God.
Ch 3 The prophecy concludes with a song of praise & faith.
3:2 H remembers past blessings, & prays that God will renew them is his day. He prays that God will revive his work.
The prayer continues with the remembrance of the great works of God in the past. It is very poetic, but alludes to God bringing his people into the promised land.
16-19 H concludes with an expression of praise – he knows his God, & he will rejoice in him, even though he faces a time of suffering.
We will sing a version of that song when we conclude the service.
We need to look closely at that tremendous statement of faith in 2:4, which Paul develops in Galatians 3:1-14.
Paul builds a tremendous building on those 6 words of Habakkuk: The righteous will live by faith.
He shows that Christ must be the OBject of our faith, and that faith is by the Holy Spirit of God living & working within us. This is no vague belief that gives salvation without changing our life.
The Jews of Hab's time believed they were God's people, & that the temple protected them against the enemy. Within 20 years, the temple was destroyed, & the people taken captive to Babylon. 600 years later, the Jewish leaders of Jesus' time believed the same & rejected their Messiah. Within 40 years, the Romans destroyed the temple & Jerusalem. If you go to Jerusalem today, the stones still cry out in witness of that destruction.
I believe that if we are truly saved, we cannot lose our salvation. After all, Jesus saves completely those who come to God through him. But, I believe also that if we are saved, we will not continue in sin. We will live by faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. Hebrews gives very solemn warnings against those who turn away from Jesus – they live under the condemnation & wrath of a holy God.
Only in Christ are we righteous. His righteousness is imputed - credited to us when we trust in Jesus for salvation. I preached on that in my last sermon.
The prOBlem with the Galatians was that teachers had come among them who taught that they had to become Jews & keep all aspects of the Law, including circumcision to be saved.
That was no Gospel at all. If we have to keep all the Law, we are hopelessly lost. We are under the curse of God if we fail to keep the Law in every detail.
Under the Law we have the hopeless task of perfect OBedience. The Jewish teachers were still in the Old Cov, still clinging to Moses & his Laws, & all the rituals that no longer had any value now Jesus had finished his saving work.
Come to Jesus as repentant sinners; your Christian life begins as you put your faith in him; then live faithfully as his servants & followers whatever trouble we may face in this life. We live with the promise of glory. Amen
I’ve written a hymn based on Hab. 3. Blessing - 3:2 LORD, I have heard of your fame; I stand in awe of your deeds, O LORD. Renew them in our day, in our time make them known; in wrath remember mercy. - The grace.
The LORD our Righteousness – Cranford, July 21, 2013.
Tony:Jeremiah 23:5 – 6
152 How sweet the name of Jesus sounds in a believer's ear
Ian:Children's talk (children stay with parents.)
578 I once was a stranger to grace and to God (Jehovah Tsidkenu)
568 My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus' blood and righteousness
Jer. 22:28 – 23:8
516 I hear thy welcome voice that calls me, Lord, to thee
Tony: Blessing 2 Peter 3:13-14
Children – please stay in your places, as I want the grown-ups to listen. What I am saying to you is the introduction to my sermon to them.
Pastor ROBin told you about a Scottish Pastor ROBert Murray McCheyne, who lived about 150 years ago. As he spoke, I was reminded of one of his hymns, and I will be preaching on the Scripture that inspired that hymn.
Our names are important, and Bible names often have special meaning.
Can anyone tell me what the name “Jesus” means ????? Jehovah saves.
We'll learn the text: This is the name by which he will be called: The Lord Our Righteousness. Jeremiah 23:6
It is a prophecy about Jesus coming into the world, and being our Saviour.
None of us is really good. We are all sinners. Jesus came into the world to save us from our sins. Jesus was completely and perfectly righteous; when we trust in him, God forgives us and credits us with his righteousness.
The Bible Old Testament (before the birth of Jesus) was writen in the Hebrew language. When you see the name LORD, it is the name sometimes translated “Jehovah.” That name occurs 6,500 times in the Hebrew. The Jews considered it was such a special name that they would not pronounce it. They used a word for “Lord” instead. That special name is never used in the New Testament. The special name we have for God is “Jesus.”
This hymn sings of that text with the words in the Hebrew language. “Jehovah Tsidkenu” means “The LORD our Righteousness.” “Jesus our righteousness.”
It tells how RMM was not interested in Jesus at first, but when he realised he was a sinner who needed Jesus' forgiveness, “The Lord our Righteousness.” became very special to him.
578 I once was a stranger to grace and to God.
We will first look at Jeremiah's prophecy in ch 23, and then see how Paul teaches about righteousness in his letter to the Romans.
When we read the prophets, we need to keep several things in mind:
The time they wrote;
What was happening to Israel;
What is their message to the people of Israel;
How does their message speak of Jesus;
How does their message apply to us?
We should not read the prophets with the Bible in one hand and a newspaper or TV in the other, looking to see if OT prophecy is being fulfilled today.
Jer's prophecy began in about 626 BC, during the reign of a good king, Josiah, and continued for over 40 years.
He lived through a series of evil kings, who refused to repent, until God allowed the Babylonians, led by Nebuchadnezzar to destroy the city of Jerusalem and the temple.
Nebuchadnezzar carried away many of the people of Israel, including the king, Daniel and his friends, Ezekiel, and thousands of others.
Jeremiah was left in Jerusalem, where he continued to minister to the people.
The people of Israel continued to reject his warnings.
We read at the end of Jer 22 a special message for King Jehoiachin, he would be the last king. None of his children would be king.
Jehoiachin was in David's line and God had given David a special promise: 16 Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me[b]; your throne will be established forever.’” 2 Sam. 7:16
It seemed that that promise lasted only 400 years, and ended with destruction of Jerusalem, the temple, the kingdom and even removal from the promised land.
However, when we read the genealogy of Jesus in Mat. 1, we see Jehoiachin there. 11 and Josiah the father of Jeconiah (Jehoiachin) and his brothers at the time of the exile to Babylon. 12 After the exile to Babylon:
Jeconiah was the father of Shealtiel, Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel,
Jehoiachin was to be the last human king in David's line.
We must read on into Jer. 23:1-8.
What hope was there in human kings? All were sinners and even the best of them failed in some ways. What was needed was for God himself to become king. Now we have a better promise, and because God makes the promise, it will be kept, perfectly: 5 ‘The days are coming,’ declares the Lord,
‘when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch,
a King who will reign wisely and do what is just and right in the land.
6 In his days Judah will be saved and Israel will live in safety.
This is the name by which he will be called: The Lord Our Righteousness,
Jehovah Tsidkenu – will go far beyond what the people of Israel could imagine. He would not be a human king, who would rule for a few years, and then die. The LORD, Jehovah, would be their king – for ever.
That promise was kept when Jesus was born, Son of God, and son of Mary. God and man in one person, born into David's family as promised. As I mentioned in a previous sermon, Jesus was JacOB's ladder to heaven – with its foot on earth & its top reaching to heaven. Matthew records: 1:20 But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” 22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23 “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).
Before we move on from Jeremiah, we must note other aspects of his prophecy: God would gather his people from wherever they had been scattered, and restore them to their land.
70 years after they were carried away to Babylon, a new king, Cyrus, commanded the Jews to return, to rebuild the temple.
Zerubbabel, grandson of Jehoiachin led that return. Zerubbabel did not become king. We need to look beyond the return, beyond the restoration of Jerusalem and the rebuilding of the temple, for the fulfilment of Jeremiah's prophecy.
As we've already seen, Jesus would fulfill the prophecy.
Jesus lived a sinless life, keeping the Law of Moses to perfection. He died in our place, to take the punishment for our sin. He rose from the dead, explained to his Apostles how OT prophecy was being fulfilled, and ascended to his throne in heaven.
His work was done, and he commissioned his Apostles to preach the message of salvation.
On the day of Pentecost, Peter declared: Acts 2:38 .. . “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.”
That message is for us, and everyone on earth – are YOU trusting in Jesus as your Saviour, or are you hoping that you are good enough to stand in you own righteousness at God's judgement?
How does the Gospel work? How is Jesus “The LORD our Righteousness” (Jehovah Tsidkenu.)
Turn to Romans 3. 9 What shall we conclude then? Are we any better? Not at all! For we have already made the charge that Jews and Gentiles alike are all under sin. 10 As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one;
11 there is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God.
12 All have turned away, they have together become worthless;
there is no one who does good, not even one.”
Without Jesus, and his righteousness, and his saving work by his cross and resurrection, our situation would be hopeless – death and a guilty judgement to hell for lost sinners. We must read on - 21 But now a righteousness of God, apart from the law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22 This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. 25 God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished— 26 he did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.
How can I add to Paul's words? Paul sees beyond Jeremiah's prophecy of Israel being called out of the nations back to the promised land. He sees that the prophecy is for all nations, Jew & Gentile alike, wherever they are. He did not preach “return to the promised land” but “repent and turn to God, trusting in Jesus for your salvation.”
Paul answers another question that arises:
If we are all sinners who can never be saved by keeping the Law, and if Jesus died for our sins, and credits us with his righteousness, can we just continue to sin and trust in God's grace and forgiveness?
Turn to Romans 5. I'll read from verse 18 into chapter 6. 18 Consequently, just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification and life for all men. 19 For just as through the disOBedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the OBedience of the one man the many will be made righteous. 20 The law was brought in so that the trespass might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased all the more, 21 so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. 6:1 What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? 2 By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? 3 Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.
Can we continue in sin, trusting in a forgiving God? Certainly NOT!
Salvation is new life with the Holy Spirit living within us. Our baptism marks the end of a sinful, disOBedient life, and the beginning of a new life. The old life results in death and hell. The new life comes with a promise of heavenly glory.
Jesus by his cross suffered the wrath of his Father God against our sin. We cannot – we dare not, continue in sin. We are living a new life by faith in Jesus, the LORD our righteousness.
In Jesus, the LORD our Righteousness we have better promises – perfect forgiveness now; a living, loving relationship with our God who is love; a promise of glory in heaven when we die, and the ultimate perfection of resurrection to a new heaven and new earth.
Make sue YOU experience this wonderful salvation.
Our closing hymn is a response to the Gospel call: 516 I hear thy welcome voice that calls me, Lord, to thee.
Hear the voice of Jesus calling in his Word, and come to him.
Blessing: 2 Peter 3:13 But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells. 14 So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him.
Apologies for quotations from the NIV - few in our congregation have English as a first language.
My preparation used the KJV.
Matthew 24 Cranford September 16 2012. Read Psalm 24 314 Rejoice, the Lord is King Chorus Isaiah 5:1-7 315 Day of judgement 586 My hope is built
Note - We have a congregation of various nationalities & native languages, so the readings are from the NIV. Preparation is done primarily using the KJV.
We often hear Christians say, “Look at the state of the world. All the signs indicate that the Lord Jesus will come in the very near future.” They quote 2 Tim. 3, where Paul writes:
But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days.
People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, dis
nt to their pare
nts, ungrateful, unholy,
without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-co
ntrol, brutal, n
ot lovers of the good,
treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God—
having a form of godliness but denying its power.
othing to do with them.
They say, “We must be in the last days. Notice that Paul tells Timothy, ”Have nothing to do with them.” That instruction certainly applies to us, we should live godly lives & keep away from evil. We should live our lives in the light of our Lord's return for resurrection & judgment. But we should not interpret Scripture by what we read in the newspapers or see on TV. What do the Bible writers mean by the last days? Scripture says that the last days followed Jesus death & resurrection. At Pentecost Peter preached:
No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:
In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways,
but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son,. . .
Notice again - these last days. The Apostles were living in the last days. We will turn to Matthew 24 & see that specifically the last days are the final days of the Old Covenant. Mark 13 & Luke 21 record the same prophecy. In one sermon we cannot look at all the details, but I will try to give an outline. We need to note that Jesus is prophesying the destruction of the temple & giving warning signs so that Christians can leave the city before the destruction. Jesus declares:
Even so, when you see all these things, you know that it is near, right at the door.
I tell you the truth, this generation
will certainly n
ot pass away u
ntil all these things have happened.
The generation that rejected its Messiah will suffer the prophesied destruction. That took place when the Romans destroyed the city in the year 70. Jesus is given warnings for his Apostles, the people listening to him, AND for those who refused to take his warnings. 24:1 Jesus left the temple and was walking away when his disciples came up to him to call his atte
ntion to its buildings.
“Do you see all these things?” he asked.“I tell you the truth, n
ot one stone here will be left on an
other; every one will be thrown down.”
“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those se
nt to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were n
Look, your house is left to you desolate.
For I tell you, you will n
ot see me again u
ntil you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’”
Jesus announces the total destruction of the temple & the judgement on the generation that rejected him. That destruction took place in the year 70, exactly as Jesus had prophesied. The destruction of the temple will bring to an end the Old Covenant age, with its temple & sacrificial worship. There will be one last sacrifice, of Christ himself. The blood of the New Covenant will be shed for the salvation of all believers. We have to be careful with the disciples' questions. They may indicate a wrong understanding of the true situation. In Acts 1 they ask:
“Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me.
At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each
and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people.
Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold,
but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.
And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.
He now teaches about the signs of the end of the age. The warning signs he gives are signs that they should flee from Jerusalem to the mountains. Those who stay will suffer great distress – great tribulation.
“When you see Jerusalem being surrounded by armies, you will know that its desolation is near.
Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mou
ntains, let those in the city get out, and let those in the cou
nter the city.
Christ will NOT be coming to lead the Jewish armies to victory against the Romans. The Romans will destroy the city & temple. There will be great slaughter, or slavery for the defenders. The Jewish historian, Josephus, writes about that dreadful time. History records that the Jerusalem Christians saw the signs when the Roman armies attacled Jerusalem & withdrew. They all fled the city. It is reported that no Christians remained in the city to suffer & die in that dreadful tribulation. I'll ask one question of those who think today's events are signs that Christ will come in the next few years - “when will YOU flee to the mountains?” There is nowhere on earth where you will be safe from the wrath of God. And if you are trusting Jesus Christ as Lord & Saviour then neither the wrath of man, nor any other event can separate you from the love of God. Wherever you are, you are as safe in Jesus as Noah was in the ark. By his death & resurrection, Jesus triumphed over Satan & all the powers of Hell. By the Gospel, we declare “freedom” to Satan's captives. The gates of Hell cannot hold back a saved sinner. But there is a spiritual war between Heaven & Hell. When Jesus warned about persecutions, it was because of that war. At first the Jewish leaders, who demanded the death of Jesus led the persecutions. When Paul & Barnabas took the Gospel into other areas, those Jews who rejected the Gospel were the first to stir up persecution against them. Jesus was the rejected King of the Jews but Scripture records his ascension to his heavenly kingdom. His words in v. 30 refer to his ascension to his Father, NOT to his second coming. I'll read it in a better translation:
, and all the tribes [nations] of the land [earth] will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven [the sky], with power and great glory.
Jesus was condemned for blasphemy for using the same words:
Yes, it is as you say,” Jesus replied. “But I say to all of you: In the future you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.” (Mat. 26:64)
John repeated those words in Revelation 1 (again a better translation):
Look, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him; and all the tribes of the land will mourn because of him. So shall it be! Amen.
Those words are a quote from Daniel 7.
Jesus declared, “Believe me, woman, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mou
ntain nor in Jerusalem.
You Samaritans worship what you do n
ot know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews.
Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshippers the Father seeks.
God is spirit, and his worshippers must worship in spirit and in truth.”
Earthly Jerusalem is no longer of any significance. We have a heavenly hope, & we are citizens of a heavenly city. The promises to Abraham are for all believers in the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus has gained the victory of Satan & the powers of Hell. He has been vindicated by the fulfillment of his prophetic words against the generation of Jews that rejected him. The war against evil goes on as, by the Gospel we seek to call to Jesus those he died to save, while those who reject the message of salvation persecute those who do turn from false religions to the living God, by repentance & faith in Jesus. This study is very important for us all. God is gracious to sinners & has made a way for sinners to be saved; for enemies to become friends – Children of God, brothers & sisters in Christ. He is patient & long-suffering. He sent the Gospel of free & full salvation to the generation of Jews who rejected Jesus, & despite them rejecting & persecuting the Gospel preachers, he allowed them 40 years before their final judgement. For nearly 2,000 years the Gospel has been proclaimed around the world. Sinners from many nations have been saved & added to the church of Jesus Christ. Sadly also sinners have rejected the Gospel, & persecuted those who receive it & follow Jesus. They are now suffering the wrath of God. God's patience & long-suffering runs out. We all face death, & after death the judgement. Jesus will come again, for resurrection & judgement, so no-one can escape the judgement of God. There will be no “rapture” & no-one “left behind” to turn to Jesus during a future tribulation or millennium dispensation. Now is the day of salvation. Our message is simple – we are all guilty sinners deserving God's punishment; Jesus died on the cross to bear God's wrath in our place; we must repent, turn from our sin & commit our lives to Jesus as our Lord & Saviour. Repentance is an active turning away from sin, & a commitment to living a godly life. God gives us his Holy Spirit to give us life, & strength to live for him. Baptism is a sign of that new life – of the cleansing blood of Jesus & our commitment to live for him. Don't let false prophets & teachers turn you aside – our commitment is to watch & pray, to live as those who will delight to see the glory of Jesus when he comes for resurrection & judgement, & not turn away in terror of a dreadful judgement. May we all know this blessing. Amen.
Ezekiel 37 Cranford May 22, 2011
Read Psalm 98
31 Sing to God (Ps 98)
918 He is Lord
Sheet – Prabhu hai - if Mrs Gill present
Ezekiel 37:1-14 English, then Urdu if Mrs Gill present
399 Revive thy work
398 O breath of life
Wind, breath & spirt
1. Introduction to Ezekiel's prophecy
2. The vision of the valley of dry bones
3. The message of the vision
4. What Jesus taught about spiritual life from the dead.
5. The resurrection at the day of judgement.
6. Eternal life – for us.
Introduction to Ezekiel's prophecy
ROBin has asked to to preach from Ezekiel 37, where Ezekiel is commanded to preach to a valley of dry bones.
Before we look at the chapter, we need to look at the context. Ezek. 1:1 Now it came to pass in the thirtieth year, in the fourth month, in the fifth day of the month, as I was among the captives by the river of Chebar, that the heavens were opened, and I saw visions of God.
The book begins when Ez was 30 years old - the age when a Jewish priest began his service in the temple at Jerusalem.
Temple service was not possible for Ez - the country had been defeated by the Babylonians, & he had been taken to that country along with many other young men. We read of some of them in the book of Daniel.
This happened about 600 years before the birth of Jesus, & 400 years after the great kings, David & Solomon had ruled the land.
They had had wonderful times of blessing during the time of the kings David & Solomon, when a glorious temple was built to replace the tabernacle they had built in the wilderness, & carried with them wherever they went.
However, the people of Israel had turned away from the living God & were worshipping other gods & had made idols like the nations around them.
God sent prophets to warn them, and allowed other nations to defeat them when they did not turn back to God.
This happened many times until Jerusalem was captured & the temple was destroyed. The temple treasures were carried away to Babylon.
At that time many of the people of Israel were carried away also, to serve the Babylonians.
The prophet Jeremiah told them they would stay in Babylon for 70 years. Many would live & die there & never see Jerusalem again.
Jeremiah was the prophet who taught the people who stayed in Jerusalem.
Ezekiel was the prophet who taught the people in exile in Babylon.
The vision of the valley of dry bones was for the exiles.
The vision of the valley of dry bones Eze 37: 1 The hand of the LORD was upon me, and carried me out in the spirit of the LORD, and set me down in the midst of the valley which was full of bones,
2And caused me to pass by them round about: and, behold, there were very many in the open valley; and, lo, they were very dry.
3And he said unto me, Son of man, can these bones live? And I answered, O Lord GOD, thou knowest.
4Again he said unto me, Prophesy upon these bones, and say unto them, O ye dry bones, hear the word of the LORD.
Ez has a vision of a battle-field when the dead bodies lie where they fell. The animals & birds have eaten the flesh & the sun has dried the bones.
The LORD asks Ez if the bones can live, & commands Ez to preach to them.
Ez believes God. He knows God can make the dead live, & he OBeys the command to preach to them. As he preaches, so the bones come together & they are covered with flesh & skin.
5 Thus saith the Lord GOD unto these bones; Behold, I will cause breath to enter into you, and ye shall live:
6And I will lay sinews upon you, and will bring up flesh upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and ye shall live; and ye shall know that I am the LORD.
7So I prophesied as I was commanded: and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and behold a shaking, and the bones came together, bone to his bone.
8And when I beheld, lo, the sinews and the flesh came up upon them, and the skin covered them above: but there was no breath in them.
Breathing shows we are alive - while we live, we breathe. First aid for people who appear dead is to breathe into their mouths. We call it "the kiss of life." Countless people are alive today who would have died.
The people in the valley have their bodies restored, but they are still dead. They are not breathing.
They need one more command, & that is not to the bodies but to the wind to give them breath.
9 Then said he unto me, Prophesy unto the wind, prophesy, son of man, and say to the wind, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live.
10So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood up upon their feet, an exceeding great army.
The vision of the dead coming to life is a wonderful sight. We believe in the resurrection of the dead. We will die, & will rise again we Jesus returns in glory.
Ez sees God doing the impossible - & he believes. Do we?
Jesus died & rose again, & we believe through his death & resurrection, all our sins can be forgiven.
We will stand before a holy God on that judgement day, & be welcomed into a wonderful NH&NE where nothing & no-one sinful can ever enter.
That Gospel promise is for all who OBey the command to repent - to turn from our sin - & believe in Jesus as our God & Saviour, who died to bear the punishment our sins deserve.
The message of the vision
Back to Ez - & we find the vision is not about the distant future resurrection of the dead, but for the people living in exile. They have lost all hope of returning to their own country.
They remember all the promises of God to the nation given to Abraham.
They remember all the blessings of the past centuries, & they know only the misery of exile.
They think they are dead to the promises of God to the people of Israel.
Ez gives them God's message of hope & a blessed future.
11 Then he said unto me, Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel: behold, they say, Our bones are dried, and our hope is lost: we are cut off for our parts.
12Therefore prophesy and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, O my people, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel.
13And ye shall know that I am the LORD, when I have opened your graves, O my people, and brought you up out of your graves,
14And shall put my spirit in you, and ye shall live, and I shall place you in your own land: then shall ye know that I the LORD have spoken it, and performed it, saith the LORD.
In the vision, the breath of God gave life to the dead in the valley of dry bones. The message for the people is life to those who believe they are dead to all the promises of God.
God will keep his promises. He will bring the people back to the promised land, to worship him in a rebuilt temple.
Read on in Ez 37 to see that 'David' will be their king for ever. The NT tells us that that promised king is the Lord Jesus Christ, and that the people of Israel are all those who believe in Jesus as Lord & Saviour.
Graham Kendrick was thinking of these verses when he wrote:
Rejoice, rejoice, Christ is in you;
The hope of glory in your hearts.
He lives, he lives, his breath is in you;
Arise, a mighty army - we arise!
We have the Holy Spirit of God within us giving us eternal life & eternal hope. As we live our Christian lives, we need to keep in step with the Holy Spirit. God's purpose in Ez's vision is for our encouragement & blessing.
We will move on to the NT to see what Jesus taught about spiritual life from the dead.
John 5: 24 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.
25Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live.
26For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself;
27And hath given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of man.
Spiritually, before repentance we are all dead. Dead in sin, & condemned to hell for our sin. We must be born again, born again by the Spirit of God as Jesus taught Nicodemus in John 3.
When we turn from our sin & OBey the word of Jesus that his Father God has sent him to be our Saviour, we cross over from death to life.
Our new, spiritual life begins. We become alive to God.
That eternal life begins in this life. Hear again v. 25:
25 Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live.
Paul quotes Isaiah (49) when he writes: I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation. 2 Cor. 6:2.
The Jews of Ez' time had rejected the warnings of the prophets. They suffered the judgement of God. Dare we reject the words of Jesus, the Son of God? How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him; Heb. 2:3
The resurrection at the day of judgement.
What is there to escape from? Jesus continues in John 5:28
28 Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice,
29And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.
There is a day of resurrection coming. Jesus will come again to judge the living & the dead. No-one will escape the judgement of God by dying. The criminal who commits suicide rather than face the judgement of the court will stand in judgement before a holy God. I'll read again:
28 Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice,
29And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.
Eternal life – for us.
When we turn from our sin, & believe in Jesus as our Lord & Saviour we begin spiritual life – eternal life. We are saved for eternity because Jesus suffered the judgement of God in our place when he died on the cross.
He showed his victory over death by rising again.
We share that victory when we begin our spiritual life by repentance & faith in Jesus.
May we all know that spiritual life, that resurrection life, through a living faith in Jesus.
Our last hymn is a prayer for spiritual life, for the Holy Spirit of God to sweep through us & his church on earth.
386 O breath of life come sweeping through us
Jude: 3Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.
4For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.
5I will therefore put you in remembrance, though ye once knew this, how that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed them that believed not.
. . .
11Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Core.
12These are spots in your feasts of charity, when they feast with you, feeding themselves without fear: clouds they are without water, carried about of winds; trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots;
In our study in Jude, Balaam is given as an example of wickedness.
He was a professional wizard. You could pay him to bless or curse whoever you wanted.
There are people like him today. We get their cards through our doors.
Pass exams; make your husband love you; cure illness; remove curses; get you a jOB; etc.
Whatever you want, pay him to magic it for you.
We can recycle those cards - we know they are worse than useless. They are evil, but they do not deceive Christians, because we know they are pagan.
It is much more dangerous when supposed Christian come into the churches with false doctrines.
We can read Balaam's story in Numbers 22-25, 31. He seems to be a good man, only saying what the LORD tells him. Every word of Balaam recorded in Scripture is a blessing for Israel.
Balaam was not allowed by God to curse Israel, so he finds another way to make trouble for them.
He teaches the Moabites to make friends with the Israelites & commit adultery with them, even in their worship of the LORD.
Jude is concerned that people like Balaam have got into the church, and are deceiving & corrupting Christians.
Give to the Lord, they say - at their address - and you will receive your blessings from God. But, can we buy blessings? Of course not!
They say, "Pay to go to our special meetings, & begin to live a victorious Christian life." All your prOBlems will be solved.
These are Balaam ministries.
Benny Hinn & Matthew Ashimolowo are examples of such evil men.
They get rich by making false promises of blessing.
Many thousands of Christians are deceived by them.
We will look at 2 other NT warnings against Balaam ministries. 2 Peter 2:1But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.
2And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of.
3And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not.
. . .
14Having eyes full of adultery, and that cannot cease from sin; beguiling unstable souls: an heart they have exercised with covetous practices; cursed children:
15Which have forsaken the right way, and are gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Bosor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness;
16But was rebuked for his iniquity: the dumb ass speaking with man's voice forbad the madness of the prophet.
Balaam wasn't allowed to curse Israel, so he tried to destroy the people of Israel by joining with them & in their worship, & corrupting them.
God wants us to love him & enjoy him. He is our Lord & Saviour. And he has commanded us to be holy, as he is holy.
Balaam knew he could not harm Israel by cursing them - God turned the curse into a blessing, so he encouraged the women of Moab & Midian to invite the people of Israel to join them in their worship of Baal.
That "worship" became a sexual orgy - like today's drug & drink fueled rave-ups.
That worship was sexual, NOT holy. They were breaking God's commandments & calling it worship. (Numbers 25)
That corrupted worship brought a curse from God on Israel, & many died.
God has declared a curse on all who break his holy law. Balaam knew what he was doing - he even invoked the covenant name LORD. (Jehovah)
When Jesus died on the cross, he bore that curse on himself in our place.
Jesus himself wrote against Balaam in Revelation 2: 14But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication.
God blesses his children in our relationship with him. We may be poor or suffering in health, or suffering persecution, but Jesus calls us blessed.
He has promised heavenly blessings for all who follow him.
Those who lead Christians away from Jesus by promising riches & pleasure & freedom from living holy lives by following their way suffer the curse of Balaam, & the judgement of hell.
As Jesus warned, 41Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak. (Matthew 26:41.
May we all walk in his light, & be blessed.
Our closing hymn is Jude's blessing. (24-25) 24Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy,
25To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.